When I was growing up we played tackle football and tackle-the-man-with-the-ball during recess. I have also heard tales of people playing football against “the crack” in a town where I lived. These were all games where football was played without helmets, pads or any safety equipment.
There is actually a (semi) professional league playing its second season that plays without any equipment except for a mouth piece.
Dangerous? At first thought you would think so but then when you look at it more closely you wonder if all the gear traditional football teams wear contribute MORE to players’ injuries.
The American 7s Football League (A7FL) is a no pads, no helmet spring league with 16 teams located in the Northeast. The A7FL field size is smaller than a standard football field measuring 100 x 37 yards. The narrower field width increases the pace of the action with fewer players on the field. The teams play 7-on-7. The quarterback has four eligible targets and two linemen. There are no blitz restrictions for the defense.
A7FL claims their game is much safer than traditional football because players are more aware to not use their heads or shoulders for tackling. There are no helmet-to-helmet collisions as there are in other forms of football. This teaches players not to lead with their head. Games also do not include kickoffs or punts. Instead, the rules implement a unique version of special teams called a 3-on-1 throw off.
I watched some YouTube videos of A7FL games and I still cringe at the hitting and tackling that happens in a game. It’s a lot like an Americanized Rugby game which is where American football evolved. Rugby is just as much contact and they do not have helmets either. So, you wonder if maybe the NFL should rethink the helmet and pads. In reality I don’t see it happening but with technology, you would think traditional football could develop better protective gear.
Instead of the traditional football helmet, the league is looking at technology to help its players protect themselves. The league signed a deal with 2nd Skull which makes skull caps integrated with technology which helps absorb the impact of hits. The cap is very light with a specialized urethane material that lies softly on the player’s head but hardens to guard against impact.
Why not just go back to the leather helmets?
For more information about the A7FL, go to: www.a7fl.com
Yeah, I’m still not sure about safety in this version of tackle football. They have never played a game against guys from “the crack”.